Fullerton’s (In a Cloud of Dust) tale starts out as a thoughtful account of a child’s daily life in Sri Lanka: “[Malini] watches the load of rice seedlings swish back and forth on the cart as it bumps over the road toward her. Today she will learn to plant those seedlings.... But what if she does it wrong?” The story takes a dramatic turn as a sudden squall floods the road and cuts Malini and the oxcart off from the adults. LaFave’s (Ben Says Goodbye) spreads, too, switch from quiet landscapes to urgent action, dashing lines tracing sheets of rain. Malini must lead the ox and cart into the barn to get the rice seedlings under cover. She overcomes paralyzing fear and tugs ox and cart inside, but her troubles aren’t over: the ox is agitated. Bold lines emphasize the animal’s intimidating bulk, but Malina screws up her courage: “She leans close to him, stroking whispering calming. They wait slowly, breathing together.” It’s a gratifying portrait of a child discovering her own strength: Malini, so nervous about learning to plant rice, is capable of far greater feats. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/14/2016 Release date: 02/01/2017 Genre: Children's
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